Mayor of South Ribble meets selfless Towngate fire heroes
The Mayor of South Ribble played host to the now-famous Towngate fire heroes on Wednesday evening (9 June). Meeting them in the new dementia-friendly Peace Garden in the grounds of the council's Civic Centre in Leyland, Councillor Jane Bell, the Mayor, thanked the three brave citizens for their dramatic heroic intervention after they entered a burning set of flats on Towngate in Leyland on Thursday 20 May to raise the alarm and get residents - some of whom were fast asleep - out of the building safely.
Kim Almond, 23, along with Zach Douglas, 20, and their friend Shania Somerville were driving towards McDonald's in Leyland close to midnight when they saw the fire, which had already engulfed much of the building, and felt compelled to intervene to help those inside get to safety.
They undoubtedly saved lives that night.
After pulling over, blasting the car horn repeatedly and calling 999 - and seeing that the fire was out of control, ravaging the building - they determined there was no option but to enter the building from the rear, bang on doors and wake up the sleeping residents in order to shepherd them to safety.
Councillor Jane Bell, Mayor of South Ribble, said:
"This is a simply unbelievable story and a stunning instance of bravery. What lovely young people they were. I've worked with young people for many years and this reaffirms my belief that although young people can get a bad press sometimes, there are plenty of brilliant, well-intentioned, caring people out there like Zach, Kim and Shania whom we all applaud and look up to after this phenomenal rescue mission. Ringing 999 was absolutely the right thing to do. But they used their judgement and did what probably none of us would have done: they risked their lives in order to save another. They should be commended on their bravery and it was a real honour to meet them. I am also very impressed by their willingness to continue to help the victims of the fire: they plan to do a sponsored walk from Leyland to Old Trafford Football Ground in Manchester - a distance of more than 25 miles - in order to help the victims financially after losing so much in the fire. What an amazing thing to do - they have already done more than enough. We salute them and we are so proud of their efforts. Life savers, literal life savers."
Emma Sue Heywood, the Mayoress of South Ribble, said:
"I was thrilled to meet Shania, Kim and Zach and learn of their outstanding bravery. They are absolutely lovely people and I am so impressed by their level of thought for others. They have saved lives as a result of their quick-thinking and determination. We are all thankful that they were on hand - and willing and able - to come to the rescue. It was just really nice to welcome them to the Civic Centre Peace Garden and thank them personally on behalf of the people of South Ribble."
Kim, Zach and Shania were presented with signed certificates from the Mayor as well as enjoying some snacks and refreshments and chatting together for a good hour - not just about the fire, but finding out about their lives, jobs and interests.
The Mayor wished them luck with their sponsored walk and when the hyperlink is available for donations, this will be shared on the Mayor of South Ribble Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SRBCMayor.
• You can read the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service incident report here: https://www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/commercial-building-fire-in-leyland/
• LFRS Group Manager Tom Cookson provided the following update from the scene via Twitter: https://twitter.com/LancashireFRS/status/1395216498147405826
• Eight fire engines attended the scene at 00:12 on Thursday 20 May 2021
• News coverage of the incident was provided by local and national media, for example:
Lancashire Evening Post:
ITV Granada Reports: